A statement released October 11, 2012, by Reuters stated that several major drug companies will partner with medical colleges to help offset the many mental and physical problems that beset those who are affected by childhood sexual abuse. The long-term ramifications of childhood sexual abuse are many, both physical and emotional. Identifying those who are being sexually abused is one method of early intervention that can be done within the medical community if they are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of children being abused. With some help, it is believed that many of the life-long results of sexual abuse can be lessened and treated earlier than is currently being done. The beginnings of these projects will be psychological clinics set up by the drug companies to treat those who are identified as victims of abuse. Earlier intervention may help to avoid the affects seen by those who have survived sexual abuse.
Roche, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline will join with Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic, along with others, to expand awareness of medical professionals about the high incidence of sexual abuse. The article states that "At least one in five girls and one in 10 boys are victims of sexual abuse before they reach the age of 18, but only one in three cases is reported," according to the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC).
Now seen as a public health issue, childhood sexual abuse is a growing concern for everyone, from government to the families of the victims. Education and early intervention are hoped to stem this wave of international proportions. While legislation has been enacted to help protect our children from this traumatic and life changing experience, they are not sufficient to stop it or even slow it down. With the numbers of incidents as high as they are, this has become a global problem needing a global solution.
It is hoped that those who have access to and recognition of the early symptoms of child sexual abuse can do more to stop and effectively treat these children. Global recognition amongst medical professionals is a good way to begin this campaign. Funding is coming from government resources, the drug companies themselves, and community organizations interested in child welfare and health.
With health ramifications that include both mental and physical components; and the combined mixture of the two, costs of treating these children is seen as a factor in early detection. Treatment for their depression and anxiety, along with stress disorders such as eating and sleeping disordered behaviors, as well as the ensuing heart disease and diabetes, even cancer, can be extremely high. Add to the mix the possible costs of treatment for these problems, and the health risks become tremendous. A high correlative to childhood sexual trauma is that of addictions to drugs, alcohol, and other risky behavioral disorders that can escalate the health problems into enormous proportions. Raising awareness in this arena will be the first step in raising awareness globally.
Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work, with a specialization in substance abuse treatment. Having worked in this field for over 20 years, she is currently working on her certification as an addictions' counselor.